Hyundai, Kia and Toyota are readying a range of new entries to compete with strong-selling models such as the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Opel/Vauxhall Mokka.
IHS Automotive has forecast annual sales of subcompact SUVs will increase to 582,790 units in Europe by 2016 from 307,300 sales this year.
Hyundai’s rival entry might peak at more than 40,000 units, while Toyota’s planned replacement for its slow-selling Urban Cruiser could reach peak sales of more than 37,000 in 2017, according to IHS Automotive.
Hyundai has so far enjoyed some success in the compact SUV segment with its ix35, which is also the brand’s No. 2 seller in Europe after the i30 hatchback.
Despite its long-term commitment to the flourishing segment, Hyundai Europe Chief Operating Officer Allan Rushforth said the compact SUV segment was unlikely to return the same high profit margins that have been achieved with compact SUVs.
Hyundai has already said it will build a subcompact SUV, which is expected to go on sale in 2015.
Kia will make a decision by the end of the year on whether to add a production model based on the Niro concept unveiled at Frankfurt.
IHS predicts annual sales of 10,000 units in Europe for the model, which will be built on Hyundai/Kia’s PB platform that underpins the Kia Soul.
Strong demand for the Mokka, Captur and 2008 has helped total sales of all SUVs in Europe to rise 6 per cent to 1.06 million in the first half at a time when overall European car sales fell by 6 per cent to 6.65 million.
However, Europe’s largest carmaker, Volkswagen, is also expected to make a big impact when it launches the Taigun in 2015.
A 2016 forecast predicts the model will achieve sales of more than 80,000 units putting it on par with the Peugeot 2008, Dacia Duster and Renault Capture for the most popular model in the segment.